On appeal from: [2013] EWCA Civ 495; [2013] EWCA Civ 934.

For around 8 years after the appellant and respondent separated, the respondent pursued a new-age travelling lifestyle and was not in a position to make any substantial financial contribution towards bringing up the children of the family. They divorced in 1992; from the late 1990s the respondent’s business took off and he became a multi-millionaire. The Court of Appeal struck out the appellant’s application for financial provision and ordered her to repay part of the money received under the costs allowance order. She appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court unanimously allows the appeal. The court examines the jurisdiction under Rule 4.4 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 to strike out an ex-spouse’s application for a financial order. It can be inferred that the references to “no reasonable grounds” and “abuse of the court’s process” in Rule 4.4 are intended to bear the same meaning as the equivalently worded strike-out provisions in the Civil Procedure Rules. The CPR also confer upon the court a further power to give summary judgment on the basis that the claimant or defendant has no real prospect of success and there is no other compelling reason why the case should be disposed of at a trial. However, there is no equivalent power of summary judgment in the 2010 Rules. When an ex-spouse applies for a financial order, the court has a duty under section 25(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, s 25(1) to determine that application having regard to all the circumstances; this assessment is not apt for summary determination. The Court of Appeal was therefore wrong to insinuate a test analogous to summary judgment into the 2010 Rules.

For judgment, please download: [2015] UKSC 14
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Release
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII